Society President Michelle Johnston co-hosted the Ontario Federation of Labour’s conference, Labour Confronts the Climate Crisis. The conference centred on questions of how workers and their unions could take meaningful action to stop catastrophic climate change.
The conference featured world-renowned theorist and activist Noam Chomsky, Canadian author and climate activist Seth Klein, labour economist Jim Stanford, Indigenous climate activist Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, and climate scientist Simon Donner.
Over the two-day conference, speakers laid out the moral, scientific and economic imperatives for ending the use of fossil fuels, and for creating a just transition to a new economy. A “just transition” refers to ensuring that people whose livelihoods are tied to fossil fuels can seamlessly transition to an economy without fossil fuels. This can include retraining and education that leads to jobs in sectors that replace fossil fuels.
The conference also included a panel on pension funds’ role in addressing the climate crisis. Chaired by Society staff pension expert Laura Brownell, the panel included pension trustees and other experts discussing how the large public sector pension plans, which have more than $3 trillion in assets, can be part of climate solutions. Among the options discussed was divesting from fossil fuels as plans like OP Trust have announced they intend to do.